What is Ophthalmia Neonatorum?
This condition will usually occur within the first two weeks of a puppy’s life. There are side effects of this disorder, but it depends on the bacteria causing the related symptoms. If the infection is mild, it could dissipate in a few days with no lasting impact. However, it is still important to take your dog to the veterinarian for diagnosis and possible treatment, if needed. If the infection is severe, the same thing is true since the condition could result in blindness, particularly if the newborn pup is consistently unable to open his eyes due to the discharge. If you notice your puppy’s eyes draining mucus and pus or there is pain, itchiness or redness in the eye, you should consider help from a veterinary specialist.
Ophthalmia neonatorum is a condition that causes conjunctiva or cornea infection, which occurs mostly in new puppies, just before or after the eyelids are opened.
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Symptoms of Ophthalmia Neonatorum in Dogs
The first signs that there is problem could be swelling and inflammation behind the sealed eyelids. Once the infection gets worse, the corner of the dog’s eye may be opened forcefully. There also may be a leakage of mucus from the eye. In some cases, the area affected may involve the sinus cavity and the nose where your dog will show signs of a runny nose and difficulty with breathing. These are some of the signs that your puppy litter is experiencing issues with their health and a veterinarian visit is essential. Some of the most noticeable warning signs are:
- Swollen eyelids
- Red eyes
- Mucoid discharge from the eyelids
- Outward bulge
- Lost vision
- Mucus discharge inside the cornea and conjunctival fornices
- Ulcerated cornea
- Perforated cornea
- Globe collapse
- Corneal adhesions
- Fusing together of upper eyelids and lower eyelids due to accumulated discharge
You may also see a thick mucus discharge on your puppy’s face, if a small opening is detected between the dog’s eyelids.
Causes of Ophthalmia Neonatorum in Dogs
The cause of ophthalmia neonatorum in puppies is bacteria entering the eyes prior to, afterwards or during birth. Other causes include:
- Unclean environment for the new puppies
- Infection in the vaginal dam close to the moment of birth
It is also oftentimes related to Staphylococcus in cats and dogs. The newborn puppies are exposed to the mother’s birth canal, which may have been previously infected. All breeds of dogs are vulnerable to this condition.
Diagnosis of Ophthalmia Neonatorum in Dogs
For proper diagnosis, the veterinarian will do a physical examination. Included in the examination, before the diagnostic tests, will be weight, breath sounds and an overall check-up to assess the general health of the newborn puppy. A cytology examination could also be conducted. Since the new puppies don’t have a medical history, your veterinarian may check for other issues such as fleas, stool texture and parasites as well as ear mites. Some tests will be conducted for further confirmation of the ophthalmia neonatorum. These may include:
- Bacterial culture
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Biochemical profile
- Fluorescein straining to find any corneal ulceration
Treatment of Ophthalmia Neonatorum in Dogs
Treatment could include irrigation and topical antibiotics. The topical antibiotics may be prescribed for use at least for one week. The veterinarian may also separate the eyelids manually. This is usually done using a wet and warm cloth compression and gently prying open the eyes. This can also help to stop the eyelids from shutting again.
The veterinarian could use a tiny scissor blade or scalpel to separate the eyelids gently. Prescribed liquid medicine is also given to wash the eyes. The eyes can also be flushed using warm saline. This should remove all of the discharge. It is quite uncommon for the puppy to exhibit systemic illness from this condition, but if so, the veterinary specialist will prescribe systemic antibiotics.
Recovery of Ophthalmia Neonatorum in Dogs
Your veterinarian could ask you to administer prescribed medication to your puppy on an interim basis. Make sure you follow these instructions. Warm compressions could also be recommended by the veterinarian in hopes of keeping the eyelids open and the puppy’s face clean. If there are symptoms of illness such as loss of appetite, vomiting, lethargy, not nursing or diarrhea, you should make contact with the veterinarian right away. Make sure that the environment where newborns are kept is clean. Do a physical examination of the puppies each morning. Change the puppy’s bedding regularly and if necessary, you should move the puppies to a new location. You may have to keep the mother in a controlled environment for a short period, away from the puppies until they are better.